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Session Details

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​March 21, 2019, 2:00 PM ET: How to Make Patient Safety Easier to Explain and to Champion

  • M.E. Malone, MS, MPH, Deputy Director, Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety

  • Rose Hendricks, PhD, Researcher, FrameWorks Institute  

  • William Berry, MD, MPA, MPH, Associate Director and Senior Advisor to Executive Director, Ariadne Labs​

Certain concepts have become hallmarks of improving patient safety and second nature to improvers — for example, systems thinking and building a culture of safety. However, try explaining this work to people outside safety improvement circles and you're likely to confront the reality that the degree to which health care can be unsafe and that medical errors and near misses occur is not universally shared. Or understood.

That's according to the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety​ in Massachusetts, whose recent research suggests patient safety experts and much of the public are not on the same wavelength or talking the same language — even after decades of publicity about patient harm and a relentless patient safety movement. And certain words used to explain efforts to improve patient safety don't help. For much of the public, "systems" tends to be negatively associated with things that are impersonal and rigid; the terms "culture of safety or safety culture" barely register at all. Researchers call this a "cognitive hole."

The Betsy Lehman Center has been working on a multi-phase effort to better understand these disconnects and the messaging and terminology that might fix them. They've published a new report​, and we're going to dig into the findings and recommendations on the March 21 WIHI: How to Make Patient Safety Easier to Explain and to Champion.

The recommendations for new patient safety language, metaphors, and narratives stem from a copious process undertaken by FrameWorks Institute​, known for helping organizations involved in social change communicate their work and shape public discourse more effectively. Rose Hendricks, a researcher with FrameWorks, will explain the deep dive process that's deployed to first uncover the disconnects and then identify powerful alternatives.

M.E. Malone has overseen this research at the Lehman Center. She believes it's critical for the patient safety movement to build a much broader base of understanding and support among the public at large, and also among professionals from all sorts of industries who are able to spread messaging and influence public policy.

Bill Berry, longtime quality improvement and patient safety expert, is eager to shake things up in order to grow the constituency demanding change. Patient safety initiatives need more allies and voices and, if health care and everyone else are not on the same page, communication wise, that's a big problem that must be solved.

What do you think? If you work on patient safety, is it hard to explain to people outside health care what you do? Let's see if we can make progress on that front on the March 21 WIHI. We hope you'll join us. 

Please click here to create a calendar invite for the 2:00 PM ET broad​cast.​​ ​